More rooms for expansion
Riding on its economic growth, Ningbo is drawing more local and international corporations to the city, stimulating demand for hotels and serviced suites.
The pace of growth for international hotels was nearly dormant in 2010 and last year, but seven new hotels with 3,000 rooms are opening this year. These include the Westin Ningbo, opened in January, and the Pan Pacific, InterContinental, Howard Johnson and Park Hyatt, which will open later this year.
The 310-room Westin Ningbo is located in the heart of the city centre. The property is branded as an upscale business hotel, with the majority of its guests coming from corporate meeting groups, government events and leisure travel, according to Sara Liu, its director of sales and marketing.
She says hotels in Ningbo may have a tough time due to the opening of more new hotels, but in the long run the whole industry will benefit as this will attract more meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) business.
'Ningbo needs more international four-star and five-star hotels to raise the hospitality level of the city to support its development,' Liu says.
A spokesman for the 333-room Ningbo Marriott Hotel, which opened in June 2008, says the opening of new hotels is putting some stress on manpower availability. 'Today's candidates strive to be successful and insist on joining the best company, so we need to communicate with potential candidates the benefits of working with us,' he says.
In August, the Pan Pacific Hotel and Serviced Suites Ningbo will open for business, providing 415 hotel rooms and 175 serviced suites. The two properties are located at Eastern New Town, a new financial centre next to Ningbo International Conference and Exhibition Centre.
The properties' facilities are spread across three towers, with dining and banqueting facilities within the hotel's two towers and recreational facilities within the serviced suites tower. Guests of both properties are able to enjoy the shared facilities and amenities.
Chris Ong, the hotel's general manager, says the new hotels mean guests are spoilt for choice and are beginning to look for novelty and luxury. Many international five-star hotels may try to capitalise on this trend.
While Ningbo is definitely affordable compared with first-tier cities, room rates in the city will be catching up as the city's economy continues to grow. Despite the additional hotels, room rates are expected to hold their prices, Ong says.
Along the serene banks of the Dong Qian Lake, the 236-room Park Hyatt Ningbo will open later this year in a resort setting with free-standing villas.
Positioned as a weekend retreat for the Shanghai market, the hotel is also aimed at the MICE sector with its ballroom, seven multipurpose meeting rooms, and a dedicated team of specialists to ensure events run smoothly.
Leisure facilities at the hotel will include a fully equipped fitness area, an indoor heated pool and an outdoor infinity pool with panoramic lake views and a spa with semi-private rooms.